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Monday, April 09, 2012

Positive Leadership: Dealing with Pressure

In today's VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) world, we're surrounded constantly by stress and pressure.

Some people always enjoy pressure. Pressure situations to them are the very essence of life. They are a privilege to enjoy. When you are feeling the pressure it means you are in the game and you must be close to achieving something very important.

This advice about pressure is relevant to life, sport and business. 

1. Work, work, work and focus on the fundamentals

You should always believed in controlling what you can control and not worrying about what your competitors might do. In a new business pitch you should never bother with who else is pitching. All you should focus on is doing what you do best and ensuring you deliver your best on the day. To do this usually means you have to work harder than those you are competing against.

2. Keep it simple

Ignore the politics, the possibilities, the past, and what might happen. Don't over rehearse, don't get into too much detail, just push yourself to be great and deliver the winning outcome.

3. Every game is the same. 

The only thing that changes in the final pitch is the importance of winning or losing. If it's a huge new business opportunity, then the stakes are high. But the game is no different than the game we play every day. The rules are the same. So focus on the game plan, not on the consequences.

4. Play in the now

Our brains crave control and certainty. Therefore, focus on the controllables. It is what we can do that counts, not what the other people might be doing.

5. Don't fear losing

You should have no fear of failure. Winning never comes easy, is rarely predictable, and never follows a straight line. Setbacks always happen. Accept it and you will reduce the stress when they occur. Your energy should then be refocused on the task at hand and handling the problem, not on increasing the stress levels. Setbacks should be converted into passionate feel and belief.

Sean Fitzpatrick, the former All Blacks rugby captian once said that when his team lost a test match, they gathered together and absorbed the pain together. Sean told them to hold that feeling so they knew how badly it felt and they would do anything to avoid it in the future.

Pressure. Bring it on.


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